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New Zealand Dinner

Wellington, June 3, 2021

Themed on a pilgrimage

" Chef Jacob's care and skill in preparation and presentation were exemplary "

Members and their guests gathered in New Zealand’s midwinter to participate in a dinner themed around one of the most important pilgrimages in Christianity - the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (English: Way of St James).

A six-course degustation menu was prepared by Jacob Brown, the co-owner and chef at The Larder in Miramar, Wellington, a restaurant which has a ‘nose to tail’ philosophy with food.

The Camino is a pilgrimage across France and Spain to reach Santiago de Compostela, a town in the “top left-hand corner” of Spain on the Atlantic Ocean said to be the resting place of James the Apostle.

Chef Jacob commented, “As a concept the meal sounded fantastic, but it was more difficult than I expected. I had trouble settling on the route, but once I decided on a traditional Champagne start, it readily fell into place.”

Pilgrimages began somewhere around the ninth century and reached their height in the Middle Ages. Modern pilgrims share the roads with backpackers and other adventurers. All travelling the ‘Way’ because of the romance of France and Spain together with a certain adventurous quality involved.

Chef Jacob Brown told his guests that he had planned the meal by looking at the characteristics of the regions along the way. Having found a route, he selected the wines. Then added the food to produce a wonderful six course menu.

It began with champagne. Moved down the Loire Valley, crossing the Pyrenees into the Navarra region of Spain. Then on to Rioja, Galicia, and the final destination of Santiago de Compostela.

“The top of Spain has big, deep wines, so I had to find food to match,” said Jacob. “I tweaked the food to match the wine, and the wine reflected the journey, so it all came together.”

In Champagne a glass of bubbles was accompanied by a mushroom cap-sized gougère filled with warmed raclette cheese and a square of chicken liver paté.

Along the Loire Valley the dish was poached salmon served with roe and deep fried, then roasted leaves of Brussels sprouts. This was accompanied by a Vouvray.

Crossing into Spain, guests sampled wedges of lightly cured duck with hazelnuts and cherries with a light-ish red from the Valle de Yerri. Moving deeper into Spain and the Rioja region for an earthy red to accompany grilled pork served with white beans and a morcilla (Spanish black pudding made from pig’s blood).

Manchego cheese from Galicia came next accompanied by a toasted cheese tuille on a bed of chopped nuts with roasted olives and sea salt. A strong minerally white from the area was an excellent accompaniment.

The journey ended with slow-cooked quince with chocolate and a dab of ice cream matched with a 10-year old Tawny Port.

Chef Jacob’s care and skill in preparation and presentation were exemplary. Bailli of Wellington Helen Meehan congratulated him on his superb interpretation of the theme.

John Bishop
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